Teaching is a hugely important industry, providing future generations with the skills required to fulfil their potential. As such, a steady supply of skilled applicants are required all over the country and across a diverse range of subjects, but recently some schools have found it difficult to fill vacant primary and secondary teaching jobs.

The issue is not a uniform one and certain types of institutions and particular subjects are facing more severe shortages than others. For educators that are flexible with their job prospects, this offers an opportunity not only to further their own career but to provide a valuable service for schools that require passionate and knowledgeable members of staff.

Teacher shortages.

Driven by the UK’s population growth, many schools are already struggling to fill vacancies across key subjects. Figures published in August revealed that the number of trainee teachers recruited for the current academic year had failed to reach its target for the third year in a row.

Shortfall against recruitment targets in some of the worst affected subjects:

•    Design and Technology
•    Religious Education 
•    Music 
•    Maths 
•    English 

Teaching opportunities abroad.

As well as the increase in the number of UK school children, public sector cuts have also exacerbated the teacher shortage. In fact, many UK educators have begun looking for teaching jobs abroad in the hope for more favourable working conditions. The Randstad Education job page, for example, has several international teaching jobs available for those of you that feel your career aspirations would be better fulfilled outside of the UK.

Traditionally, UK teachers have been viewed very highly by international recruiters and there are more global opportunities to explore than ever before. With excellent teaching environments and the chance to experience a new culture, teaching abroad is understandably an attractive option. Educators can also return to the UK teaching sector at a later date with fresh insights gained from their international work.

Rural and city teaching opportunities.

Of course, the emigration of UK teachers only serves to heighten the shortages at home, and for educators that would rather remain in the country there are opportunities out there. Rural areas in the UK have often struggled to recruit talented individuals to the education sector, with rural depopulation, sometimes referred to as the “brain drain,” making it difficult to attract individuals to remote areas. On the other hand, London is struggling to cope with its increasing pupil numbers despite its popularity amongst young professionals – there are now nearly four teaching vacancies per school in the capital.

Opportunities for teachers without qualifications.

For individuals considering teaching as a possible career, the shortage offers a great opportunity. Identify which subjects you are passionate about and see whether there are UK schools that require someone with your skill set. There are government promises to employ an additional 17,500 maths and science teachers over the course of the next five years, for example, highlighting that career opportunities are available.

Similarly, if you are not a qualified teacher, you may still be able to enter the profession. More practical subjects like music and PE often accept unqualified applicants with the right skillset. Moreover, entry routes such as Teach First enable candidates to gain practical experience while working toward qualified teacher status (QTS). Academy schools, in particular, are often the most flexible when it comes to employing non-qualified teachers, so if you are passionate and talented about teaching there may be an opportunity for you to help alleviate the shortage even if you do not have a formal qualification.

Supply teachers are another option that many schools are turning to in order to plug the skills gap. If you enjoy variety in the workplace, becoming a supply teacher could see you in high demand in the current teaching market. Because the UK’s education sector is facing a serious teacher shortage, it means that the demand for talented candidates is high. By demonstrating your teaching skills to employers, you can do your bit to ensure that the country’s next generation of pupils are taught by an inspirational and passionate workforce.